Saturday, April 30, 2011

Week-end Simple: Do something different

One of the wonderful things about living in Washington, DC is that there are so many things going on and so much to do, especially on the weekends. 

For example, this weekend is the 8th annual Open Air French Market in DC's Book Hill neighborhood.  With its small storefronts and historic cobblestone streets, this neighborhood in upper Georgetown is one of my favorites.  Away from the trendy shopping and traffic on M Street, it's the perfect location for the sidewalk cafes, the market, and the strolling musicians that will be a part of today's festivities.

I'm heading over there soon to do something a little different this weekend . . .

Bon week-end!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Giveaway: French Cooking in Ten Minutes

I don't remember if I was first intrigued by the title (French cooking?  ten minutes?  really?), or the fact that a cookbook written more than 80 years ago is still being published.

Published in 1930 as La cuisine en dix minutes, ou l'Adaptation au rhythme moderne, this cookbook is both a culinary snapshot and a how-to book.  It features advice on how to behave at the table and organize a meal, as well as recipes for everything from the perfect sautéed haricots verts to a sublime couer à la crème.

This book is small--5x7 inches--but packs so much utility, humor, and elegance into a tiny package, that I thought you might enjoy a copy for your own bookshelf.  So, I'm giving away two copies of French Cooking in Ten Minutes.

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is share a comment about your perfect French meal (real or imagined!)  The winners will be announced on Sunday.  

Bon appétit et bonne chance!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gâteau au yaourt

For years I've been hearing about French yogurt cake and my first thought is always, "There such a thing as French yogurt?"  A little research revealed that the cake recipe is French, not the yogurt.   

I also discovered there are slight variations in the recipe:  Dorie Greenspan makes hers with extra virgin olive oil, others use vegetable oil, and some dress up the cake with almonds, or raspberry filling.

Since this was my first attempt, I went with the basic recipe found on Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate & Zucchini.  As I was putting the recipe together, it occurred to me, that, I had made this cake before.  Yes, years ago, a variation made with sour cream! 

So how was the result?  A tougher crumb, and not as fine a texture as the sour cream cake, which makes sense due to the lower fat content (though the more likely explanation is my oven was too hot or I left the cake bake too long!)  Still, the cake was delicious and could be eaten for breakfast, snack, or a dessert, just as Clotilde promised.

Gâteau au yaourt, is very easy to make and is often the first cake that French kids learn how to bake. Hmm, I wonder if my nephews Maxime and Jules know about this?

Have you ever baked French yogurt cake?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Week-end Simple: Celebrate what you believe

For many of us, this is a week of quiet observance: Passover, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.

It's been a reflective week for me; I've appreciated the spring break from school.  It's given me time to slow down, to think, and get caught up on my life.

Outside the dining room window, my dogwood tree is full bloom. Remembering the legend of the dogwood, I snipped a few small branches to bring into the house, one more quiet observance.

Bon week-end!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Parisian Chic

Like many of you, I've been thumbing my just-released-newly-purchased copy of Ines de la Fressange's Parisian Chic.  What fun!  Part style guide, part travel book, part personal shopper, there's a little something in this book for everyone.

What I love most about the book is that it doesn't take itself too seriously, which is perfect for someone like me, who does.  Who wants to wear all-Hermes-all-the-time (and who can afford to?)  Much more fun is pairing classic Vivier's with a pair of GAP jeans, right?

de la Fressange gives her blessing for mixing high and low end pieces, vintage with contemporary, as well as men's and women's clothing.  For me, who rarely steps outside my uniform navy-gray-black-denim, this book is encouragement to be a little more adventurous in with my style.

Whether you buy it, borrow it, or browse it at the bookstore, this little book is worth the time.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Week-end Simple: Cook up a croque monsieur

It's late Sunday morning.  You've indulged by sleeping in, but now you're awake.  And hungry.

With some butter and jam, that leftover bit of baguette from last night's dinner would be tasty, but you're in the mood for something more lunch-y.

You check the fridge for ingredients.  Gruyère?  Check.  Butter?  Check.  Dijon?  Check.  Thinly sliced ham?  Check.  Et voila!  You have what you need to cook up a croque monsieur.

Whether we have Proust and his grand-mère to thank for the popularity of this satisfying sandwich is unclear, but croque monsieur has been on French bistro menus for over a hundred years.  And though I've never actually sampled a croque monsieur in France, its glorious gooey-ness is easy to replicate in my own kitchen.  What's more is it's perfect for a brunch, a quick snack, or even a simple supper.  Or, maybe all three . . .

Bon week-end!